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my heart is gutted

December 16, 2005 I was on my way from Atlanta to Birmingham when a small form caught my eye. Zooming down I-20, I told myself not to stop. Not to turn around. But by the time I got to the next exit, several miles away, I couldn’t shake the vision. I turned around. What I scooped up off the side of the road that night was my heart cat, Pilsbury.

Originally named HalfLife because I figured that’s all he had left of the 9 he started with, he was redubbed Pilsbury due to his penchant for making biscuits. The emergency vet who checked him out that first night estimated him to be 8 years old. For the next 12 years, 9 months, 2 weeks and 2 days, he charmed everyone he met. Any and all love was good love according to him. He never accepted that there were some who didn’t want his affection, and that persistence taught two dogs they had no hope of escaping his love. Present a lap in his vicinity and he would occupy it.

By the time he was middle aged, his hunting skill was impressive. Bunnies and chipmunks were his favorite prey (much to my chagrin) but he took down a full grown squirrel at least once that I know of. He talked to us constantly, telling us he was hungry, wanted love, was bringing us something to eat. His purr wasn’t necessarily loud, but constant. When the vet was trying to listen to his lungs, she couldn’t because he wouldn’t stop purring. He purred until he had no breath left.

August 16th, I noticed he was having trouble breathing. I took him in and they drained 200ml of pleural fluid from his left side. He had cancer. Our vet gave him two weeks. He wasn’t quite ready to give up that last half a life, and he stuck around until today. For a minute, the doc and I both thought we might get another one and a half months. The x-ray showed a good mass of fluid which could be drained. It took less than a minute for Dr. Fish to come back to the room, and sadly shake her head. The fluid was blood. There was nothing left to do.

Not a month before that fateful day in December 2005, I had asked Jason for a cat. Specifically, a lap cat. One who would keep me company and sit with me. Fate brought me Pilsbury, perfectly qualified and more than willing to fill that role. I am so grateful for that, and the 12+ years I was granted with this stump-tailed wonder cat.

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